19: April 2019 - #11 Working With Our Hands

Authored by Janelle Greco

Working With Our Hands

by Janelle Greco

I wish you were working nights tonight, reflector vest humming yellow and calluses the size of ant hills. If you were, I could text you. Maybe tell you I’m a little bit in love with you. I feel impossibly small though, like I could fit into your blistered palm, scrub out the grime, But we both know it’s stained the skin by now. Rivets coat your heart; my mouth is welded shut. Thoughts come only in hazy waves, like breathing in too much exhaust at once. I wasn’t there for all the things that happened to you, but I can see them like the layers of sediment at the bottom of some Jersey shore ocean, Pieces of seashell get stuck in my hair. Let the tide of a wave carry you somewhere else— to a place where you have money, never got locked up, didn't do heroin, aren’t so angry. It’s not an excuse for the sharpness of your tongue— the irritation bristling and caked on your arms, your teeth rattling from it— but it is something. We don’t have a love story, so this can’t be a love poem, But everything still pulls a little to the right when I’m with you. I never knew my heart was like an engine—mean and fast and puffing. You carry over the aorta slicked in oil, say it’s no good. We’ll need to restart everything. You understand all of this only in terms of spark plugs and diesel fuel. We smoke weed in your driveway and you talk about mileage, clutches, and brake pads. It’s not the hours between here and work or the speed at which you have to be going to do a wheelie that I need to calculate. I just want to know how far does it take to get to you and what am I giving up this instant. Your work boots leave crumbs of dirt; I wear them to go riding because heels just won’t cut it. This isn’t a board meeting. You tell me “not everyone has the luxury,” and isn’t that the truth. Your hands are coated with the dust of a city you never want to be in. Your body is all street tattoos and chipped cartilage. When you say “it’s all just one big scar,” I believe you. We tinker with each other’s skin, carburetor back twisted like a copper wire. It lights up electric when I try to get the knots out. There are so many.